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Tricky Plays


Trick or treat! As South, can you find the tricky play to make each contract? First problem is easiest, second is tougher, and the third is ghoulish.

1. 4 S by South

S K J 6 5
H 3
D A K 3 2
C 6 5 4 3
Lead: C QTable
S 10 9 8 7 4 3
H A K
D Q
C A 9 7 2


Answer

Given time it would be easy to win 10 tricks, via four spades, two hearts, three diamonds and a club; but you are in danger of losing four tricks early on (two clubs and two spades). Therefore, you must aim for two fast discards.

After winning the C A and unblocking the D Q, the only quick entry to dummy is a heart ruff, even though this means ruffing a winner. Cash the H A, ruff the H K, and cash the D A-K to pitch two clubs from your hand.

West held:

S 2 H Q-10-8-6-2 D J-9-7-5-4 C Q-J

2. 4 H by South

S A K 10 7 5
H A J 10
D J 2
C 9 5 4
Lead: D KTable
S 8 6 2
H K Q 9 8 5 4 2
D
C K 8 6


Answer

With nine top tricks, you need to find the C A onside or establish the spade suit. Problem with the latter is that you will likely lose a spade trick to East, then a club through your king may set you before you can enjoy the spades.

The solution? Pitch a spade on the first trick, as West can do no harm. Then you can establish the spade suit by ruffing. You can even cope with a singleton spade in West by leading the second spade from South after cashing one trump.

West held:

S J-3 H 7-3 D K-Q-9-8-7-6 C A-10-7

3. 3 NT by South

S 2
H 10 8 4
D K J
C A K J 10 8 5 3
Lead: H QTable
S A K 7 5 3
H A K 2
D Q 7 5 4
C 9


Answer

With only six top tricks, you need to develop clubs. If East wins the C Q, a heart return could be deadly, since West may have the D A with his good hearts. Ducking the H Q or leading diamonds first could lose your diamond entry to dummy.

The key is to cash the C A-K immediately (say, pitching a spade) then lead the C J. If East takes the C Q, you jettison the H K! This allows time to knock out the D A to reach the clubs, since dummy’s H 10 stops the heart suit.

West held:

S Q-10-8-4 H Q-J-9-7-6 D A-6 C 7-2

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek